The final weeks of the presidential race have come down to a handful of state-level battles, in which both campaigns have finely honed their messages on near-and-dear issues in hopes of convincing the last, undecided voters.

The road to the White House is essentially a final frenzied tour through Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin. In these states, Mitt Romney and President Obama are separated by less than 3 percentage points, according to an averaging of polls by the website RealClearPolitics. States like Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Michigan are also close, but the above battlegrounds are the bona fide toss-ups — and the candidates are taking pains to address each and every issue that hits home in those states.

Maybe the so-called budget “sequester” — mandatory budget cuts that will erode defense spending unless averted — doesn’t mean much to someone in rural Nebraska, but in defense contractor-heavy Virginia, it’s all the campaigns are talking about. And housing, while an issue across the country, is pivotal in Florida where the housing market has pummeled the state.

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